CommunityPam's House Blend

Is NOM-Rhode Island Just Going Through The Motions?

Lately it seems as though National Organization for Marriage in Rhode Island, the lynchpin of the opposition to Rhode Island’s marriage equality bill (H5015/S38), is just going through the motions.

Perhaps NOM-RI agrees with Sen. Stephen Archambault (D-Smithfield) when he said of the marriage equality bill that “I’m confident it will pass” the upcoming vote in the Senate Committee on Judiciary.  And once the bill gets to the full Senate, “I think the green lights will be lighting up like a Christmas tree and I think you’ll only see a sprinkling of red dots up there.”

NOM-RI’s coalition partner MassResistance seems to agree at least in part with Sen. Archambault, saying that “If the “gay marriage” bill gets through the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will most likely become law. It has already passed the House, and the full Senate would likely pass it.”

The marriage equality bill passed by an overwhelming margin of 51 to 19 in the House in late January.

Although NOM-RI’s president Chris Plante was present last week when the Senate Committee on Judiciary heard public testimony on the marriage bill, MassResistance reports that NOM-RI did little in the way of organizing around the event:

The homosexual lobby was very well organized. They had staff members with clipboards throughout the State House to sign up people. Our side had nothing like that, but the local National Organization for Marriage (NOM) people had helped bring in quality testifiers (such as college professors and various expert witnesses). And there were a lot of other good people on our side who came on their own.

NOM-RI somewhat admits this, stating that the presence of anti-equality protesters present during the hearing was “Largely due to a tremendous grass roots effort by the latino (sic) community of Rhode Island.”

This week following the Senate committee hearing has been crunch time for activists on both sides of the issue as they work against the clock to persuade a majority on the Senate Committee on Judiciary to vote their way.  The vote could happen as early as April 2, according to Chris Plante.

Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, the group supporting the marriage equality bill, has been putting the intervening days to good use by sending out teams of people to knock on voters’ doors in key districts.

NOM-RI, on the other hand left the state.  NOM-RI organized the bussing of their supporters to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to participate in a marriage discrimination rally during the Supreme Court’s hearing of California’s Proposition 8 case.

Just before leaving for D.C., Chris Plante told Rhode Island Public Radio that “We’re doing automated calling, a lot of emailing, radio – that type of thing, social media to get the word out.”

NOM-RI’s e-mail list may be robust since they’re working hand in glove with the hierarchy of the state’s Roman Catholic diocese, but the social media reference is certainly a bluff; NOM-RI’s Facebook page has only 164 followers and their Twitter page only 207 followers.  They’re not getting the word out very far through those channels, and robocalls can never hope to approach the effectiveness of real people knocking on their neighbors’ doors.

Taken together with previous efforts by NOM-RI and Bishop Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence to divert attention away from the marriage equality bill and to delay the upcoming Senate votes, it does appear that NOM-RI and their allies have a dim view of their chances of prevailing, and are simply going through the motions.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer